When Michelle Lee, 29, walked into a bar in Roselle, Illinois, she says she was feeling frumpy, tired and really, really big. Eight months pregnant with her first child, she’d flown into town that day from Denver to attend her baby shower and her friends had talked her into a night out.
But her effort at late-night fun lasted 15 minutes. Shortly after Lee arrived at the Coach House bar, a bouncer told her she had to leave; no pregnant women allowed.
“I was stunned,” she said. “He said, ‘If anything happened to you here, we would be responsible.'”
A manager at Coach House declined to comment, saying he wasn’t on duty when the incident occurred.
Lee said she was sitting at the bar sipping water with a friend who had ordered shots – when a bouncer approached her and told her she needed to follow him.
“It was a bunch of malarkey really,” she said, recalling the bouncer’s comments. “He said to me, ‘I have a personal question to ask you, are you pregnant?’ I said yes. Then he said, ‘I’m going to have to ask you to leave.'”
Michelle Lee said she was totally humiliated by the incident and agreed to go home without argument. “I thought maybe there was some sort of pregnant woman ordinance.”
But Roselle, Illinois, officials said there’s no regulation that prohibits pregnant women from entering bars. Terry O’Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, said she’d never heard of any businesses allowed to decline service or entrance simply because a woman is pregnant.
“That is not acceptable behavior,” she said, adding that she thought the bouncer should be fired and the Coach House owner sued. “We live in a country where people feel increasingly empowered to make decisions for pregnant woman.”
Lee, who’s now considering a lawsuit, told her mother, Phyllis Lee-Boyd, about the incident the next morning. When Michelle Lee’s mother contacted Coach House to complain, she was told that the bouncer saw Lee take a drink and didn’t want the bar to be responsible for a pregnant woman consuming alcohol, then later blaming the Coach House if she had pregnancy complications.
“I was livid,” Michelle Lee’s mother said, adding that this will be her first grandchild and the incident really put a damper on the family’s weekend. “Pregnant women have a right to go out and enjoy themselves.”
Lee claims she didn’t drink any alcohol that night. “I wanted to eat a slice of pizza,” she said with a laugh. “It was really sad, it looked really good.”
(((There are currently no laws that prevent pregnant women from drinking alcohol. And, there have been cases of restaurants and bars being sued for serving liquor to pregnant women. That said, was the bouncer wrong for throwing her out of the bar? Or should it not be his business if she drinks?)))